Saturday, February 16, 2008

This week on Wordplay: Natures


















This week’s show, still available via stream or podcast from the WPVM archive page, features my debut reading of NatureS from April, 2006. The reading took place at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, and I talked a bit about the Black Mountain poets, especially Robert Creeley, and my sense of their relevance to my own work. I also wanted to speak to the poetics that informs the work, and so spent probably too much time talking about parataxis, as practiced particularly by Robin Blaser, and about Novalis, whose Encyclopedia explores the identity of the character each of us calls “I” in a way that remains useful some two hundred years, now, further on.

Listening to the recording for the first time just ten or twelve days ago, I realized that I had seriously mangled my recapitulation of Creeley’s account of the rhinoceros argument between Wittgenstein and Russell. Wittgenstein refused to agree with Russell’s assertion that there was no rhinoceros in the room, and Russell, so the story goes, tried to prove to him empirically that, in fact, no such creature was around; he looked under tables and chairs, and so on. My telling scrambles Wittgenstein’s position, and so obscures the import of the whole argument - and, sadly, likewise obscures the humor of the situation as legend tells us it unfolded. When Creeley told the story, he managed to keep that humor. My apologies to Bob’s spirit, and to any who might listen to this version, for getting things scrambled in my jangled brain that night.

We don’t offer feature our own work on Wordplay, but we had a week with no guest on board, and I’d been having difficulties cleaning up a noisy recording of Jonathan Williams that I wanted to air, … so there it is. Enjoy. We’ll hopefully be able to include the Williams reading in a future show.

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Update: Coming up Sunday (or Monday via stream and podcast), Lori Horvitz.

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